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Town may lose half its populace
Harvester kills Romany girl

Town may lose half its populace

This tiny settlement of 134 people on the Czech-Slovak border became part of Slovakia on July 25, after a four-year dispute over the final delineation between Europe's two youngest states was settled.
The village held a local referendum earlier this year asking residents where their village should belong, with the majority of the electorate voting for Slovakia. In the Czechoslovak Federation, U Sabotov was part of the Czech Republic under the name U Sabotu, but Slovakia claimed the village based on historical evidence.
On July 25, the Slovak Parliament's Speaker, Ivan Gašparovič, Interior Minister Gustáv Grajči, Culture Minister Ivan Hudec and other politicians paid a visit to celebrate the handover. But not all were celebrating. As many as twenty families, representing almost half the village's populace, chose to move across the border back to the Czech Republic. According to one younger woman who wants to move, "We want to leave as soon as possible. The people here are no good." The other villagers view their departure as a hunt for money. "I am glad that I can be here and stay here," said Vlasta Peterová. "Although I was born in Morava, I am a true Slovak. They are leaving for the Czech Republic only because of money." The celebration climaxed when Gašparovič installed the sign, showing the village's name in Slovak. When the sign was up, the national anthem was played to mark the end of the long-awaited celebration.


Harvester kills Romany girl

This eastern Slovak village of 1,332 mostly Romany people was shocked on July 25, when a white farmer driving a pea harvester killed a 9-year-old Romany girl and then fled from the field.
The girl was playing and picking peas with about twenty other children, when the harvester came, chased them away with a stick and started harvesting the peas. Most of the children ran away from the machine, but the girl was probably not able to run quickly enough amid the 1.3 meter-high pea plants. The harvester's cutter snatched her and minced her body in seconds.
Having seen what happened, the children ran to the village, of which 98 percent inhabitants are Romanies, and cried for help. One 10-year-old boy who stayed in the field, however, saw the harvester driver attempt to cover the remains of the girl's mutilated body and drive the machine away from the village towards the closest village of Podolínec. He claimed later that he went to call for police and a coroner.
The Romanies in the village believe that the driver did it on purpose, because as the girl's mother said, they know him and "he does not like Gypsies." The police officer from Podolínec strongly denied this, and said that the man took very hard what had happened and "he would not be even able to kill a fly."
The officer, who wished to remain anonymous, went on to say that "it had to be very difficult for the driver, and almost impossible to see the child in the tall plants." He explained that "the girl was mentally retarded and was supposed to be at home, and not eating peas on state property."


Compiled by Andrea Lörinczová from press reports.

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